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From Marcy to Chelsea

Jay-Z raps “Picasso Baby” at Marina Abramovic in Pace Gallery

Not even Nas could stop Jay-Z from this take over. Thanks to a deal with Samsung, Jay-Z’s latest album, Magna Carta Holy Grail,  sold a million copies before it was even released. His single (which sucks) has been playing everywhere and the new album is being debated and talked about as if it’s scripture found in a cave upstate.

I have to hand it to Jay-Z, who is not only one of the best rappers of all time, but has let his work grow with his life. Thank god he’s not pretending to sling keys or stand on street corners any more. Instead, he’s rich as alfredo and expanding his presence into new territory. The latest place he’s gone is artworld central: Chelsea.

He has a track called “Picasso Baby” on his latest album. And in a clever mixture of art, marketing, and music, he did a six-hour performance of that one track in Pace Gallery yesterday. Opinionated and world-weary as always, Jerry Saltz was there and has the blow-by-blow.


North Carolina “composer” wins Pulitzer

Sol Lewitt, Wall Drawing 305, Mass MoCA
Sol Lewitt, Wall Drawing 305, Mass MoCA

Yes, the quotes in the title are on purpose. Caroline Shaw, who was born and raised in Greenville, NC, won the Pulitzer Prize for classical music last month. The only problem is that Shaw doesn’t consider herself a composer.

She told the New York Times, “That’s what’s awkward about this whole thing: that’s not really what I call myself.” Shaw is a violinist who started playing when she was 2-years-old and has been playing in New York for years. At 30 years old, she is the youngest person – and one of few women – to win the prize.

I got hooked on her composition, “Partita for 8 Voices,” after hearing her interview on WFDD. The music is mesmerizing and, here’s the kicker, it’s based on Sol Lewitt’s instructions for a wall drawing. It’s great to hear Lewitt’s instructions become the raw material for something as living and vital as Shaw’s “Partita.” The EP is available on iTunes.